Jul 11, 2012

Blue Mountain Barrel House Local Species

A couple of weeks ago a picked up a trio of beers from Virginia’s Blue Mountain Brewery. Each is part of a series of beers released through the company’s off-shoot production brewery, Barrel House. This branch of the brewery focuses on higher-end beers “…that require special processes, special ingredients, and a whole lot of patience.”

Local Species is the first of the trio that I tried. It’s a 6.6% ABV Belgian-inspired ale that’s crafted with a special barley malt, American hops and Belgian yeast that is then aged in charred White Oak bourbon barrels for a period of time. The end result is a brew that, while a little rough around the edges, was quite tasty and definitely further piqued my interest in the other two brews I purchased along with this.


Local Species pours a clear copper/rust color with a large, rocky head off-white head that displayed impressive resiliency through the drinking process.


I found the nose to be fairly subtle, with hints of roast malt, wood and peppery Belgian yeast.


The flavors of this brew are much more attention grabbing than the aroma. A moderate amount of smokey char, bourbon and a late forming bit of hop bitterness (24 IBU) command your focus as a smooth Belgian yeast (reminding me of Duvel a bit) comes into play. The combination of the barrel aging, hops and fruity esters of the yeast work well together, making for a fairly complex, yet relatively easy drinking beer. The light bodied brew has a crisp mouthfeel and a surprisingly warming sensation in the chest for a relatively modest alcohol content.


This was an interesting brew. I enjoyed the effects the barrel aging had on the brew, but the presence of the alcohol within a beer that was only 6.6% ABV is a bit surprising and gave Local Species a rough-around-the-edges character. That certainly didn’t stop me from enjoying the beer, however, as I plan on picking a couple more bottles up to set aside for a while. I’m hoping a few months or so in the cellar will help tame the alcohol some.